Bert Kinkaid, owner of East Texas Glass Co. in Kilgore, said he considers nurses and doctors who treat patients with COVID-19 to be heroes.
“Doctors, nurses, police and firefighters, they don’t have a choice,” Kinkaid said. “They have to go to work (during the pandemic).”
Kinkaid said two health care workers at Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center-Longview approached his business in April to see whether he could build a box that would protect doctors and nurses while they inserted an intubation device into the mouth of a COVID-19 patient.
They sought protection from patients coughing and spitting up, which is a primary method the novel coronavirus is spread.
Michelle Campbell, clinical director of same-day surgery and of the post-anesthesia care unit at Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center-Longview, said she knew about Kinkaid because her husband had done business with him.
She said she and anesthesiologist Francis Robichaux, M.D., met with Kinkaid.
Kinkaid said Campbell provided a picture of what she had in mind. It showed a doctor next to a box that covered a patient simulator.
“We jumped on this,” Kinkaid.
Working with fabricator Jeremy Soell, he said he used sheets of polycarbonate, a glass-like plastic, to build a box — an intubation chamber — that goes over a patient’s head. It measures 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 18 inches high and is open in back.
The prototype took a few hours to make one morning, Kinkaid said. He fit it over an employee who lay on a table.
“We cut it, and I bent the corners around them,” Kinkaid said. “We screwed a top on it.”
He said Campbell and Robichaux requested some changes that included a large hole on the top through which a nurse could put his or her hand while a doctor holds the box.
The revised intubation chamber contains two 4-inch holes on top and two 1.5-inch holes on the sides for inserting hoses, Kinkaid said.
Kinkaid said he donated the first one, and Robichaux and Campbell told him they would use it to perform a surgery the next morning.
The hospital ordered seven intubation chambers.
“We dropped everything we had to do it,” Kinkaid said. He said he and Soell met the order in three days.
Campbell said the boxes are working “very well.”
Kinkaid said he sold the boxes to the hospital for “as cheap as I could” but did not disclose the price.
Kinkaid said he has one intubation chamber to spare and will build others if he receives any requests.
“I feel good about helping,” Kinkaid said.
Kinkaid said the main focus of East Texas Glass is residential and commercial installations.